web analytics
September 23, 2014 / 28 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » Judaism » Parsha »

God at the Core


Rabbi Avi Weiss

Rabbi Avi Weiss
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Why is the construction of the Mishkan juxtaposed with Shabbat in the beginning of this week’s portion?

When God created the world he unleashed His unlimited power to create all forms of existence – inanimate, vegetable, animal and human.

God, however, purposefully performed His task in an incomplete manner. The last word of the creation story is la’asot, to do (Genesis 2:3). Here, God asks that we complete creation and in partnership with Him redeem the world.

Perhaps the greatest manifestation of human creativity in the Torah is the building of the Mishkan, which required human mastery over every creation. For example: gold was required to construct the Ark; vegetables were used for the dye needed to color parts of the Tabernacle; animal skin was used to cover the Tabernacle – and, of course, human interaction was essential to coordinate a building venture of this magnitude.

Nechama Leibowitz points out that the same words describing God’s completion of creation (va‑yechal, vayar, ve‑hinei, va‑yevarech, Genesis 1:31, 2:2‑3) are also used to describe the completion of the Mishkan (va‑yechal, vayar, ve‑hinei, va‑yevarech, Exodus 39:43, 40:33).

In the course of becoming so successful, however, human beings are in danger of forgetting that God is the source of our creativity. Hence the laws of Shabbat would have us refrain from activities that indicate our mastery over the world. In this way, we assert the centrality of God.

The first eleven of the 39 categories of prohibited work on Shabbat deal with the vegetable world (leading up to the baking prohibition). The next twenty-three deal with animal life (leading up to sewing and writing). And the next four deal with the inanimate (building). In withdrawing from each of these endeavors we acknowledge God as the Supreme Master over nature. The final category, the prohibition against carrying, leads to the understanding that even in the social sphere (carrying is a symbol of human interaction), God is in ultimate control. (See Mishnah Shabbat 7:2)

Thus the juxtaposition of Shabbat to Mishkan – to teach that even the Mishkan could not be built on the Sabbath. A reminder that God is at the core of all existence.

About the Author: Rabbi Avi Weiss is founder and president of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah and senior rabbi of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “God at the Core”

  1. I use to marvel at our imaginations, not seeing how most of what we create isn't all that new. It is amazing how much of what we invent is inspired by the natural world. It's also a bit odd to think that we can obtain patents (ownership) for concepts and things that have existed longer than us.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Jihad boy, age 13, poses with assault rifle in ISIS propaganda photo.
ISIS Urges Muslims Worldwide, ‘Kill A Disbeliever’
Latest Judaism Stories
The mothers of the three Israeli boys kidnapped and murdered by Hamas terrorists were at the United Nations on June 23, 2014. Naftali Frenkel's mother addressed the UN Human Rights Council.

A statement issued by the Frenkel, Yifrach and Sha’ar families thanks Israel for ‘justice served.’

Teens-091214-Shofar

Hamas’ tunnels were destroyed as were plans for their unparalleled terror attacks on Rosh Hashana.

Hertzberg-092614

Perhaps the most important leadership lesson Elkana taught us is to never underestimate the difference a single person can make.

Teller-Rabbi-Hanoch-NEW

“he’s my rabbi” the Black painter said with pride, pulling out a photo of the Rebbe from his wallet

The Torah notes that even when we are dispersed God will return us to Him.

Simply, for Rambam the number 14 (2×7) was his favored organizing principle.

One of the cornerstones of our Jewish life is chesed, kindness. Chesed can only be taught by example

Our understanding of what is and what is not possible creates imagined ceilings of opportunity for us.

This young, innocent child gave me a powerful, warm surge of energy and strength.

The Chafetz Chaim answered that there are two forms of teshuvah; teshuvah m’ahava and teshuvah m’yirah.

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

A Role Reversal
‘Return, O Wayward Sons…’
(Chagigah 15a)

When the Kleins returned, however, they were dismayed to see that the renters did a poor job cleaning up after themselves.

In Parshas Re’eh the Torah tells us about the bechira to adhere to the commandments of Hashem and refrain from sin. In Parshas Nitzavim, the Torah tells us that we have the choice to repent after we have sinned.

As Moshe is about to die, why does God tell him about how the Israelites will ruin everything?

More Articles from Rabbi Avi Weiss
Rabbi Avi Weiss, head of theYeshivat Chovevei Torah. Rabbi Asher Lopatin will be replacing him as head of the school.

The Torah notes that even when we are dispersed God will return us to Him.

Rabbi Avi Weiss, head of theYeshivat Chovevei Torah. Rabbi Asher Lopatin will be replacing him as head of the school.

Simcha is total; sahs is God’s joy in protecting us even when we are most vulnerable.

the test of moral integrity truly presents itself when one faces difficult situations.

Of paramount importance is that both the king and his people realize that while he is the leader, he is still a subject of God.

Rabbinic law is pivotal but it’s important to understand which laws are rabbinic and which biblical.

Israel is the only place where we have the potential to fulfill our mandate as the chosen people.

Rav Kook of blessed memory, who said that no matter where a Jew is born, he is born in Israel.

One must act as if everything depends on us and pray as if everything depends on God.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/god-at-the-core/2014/02/21/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: